TRIBUTES have poured in for a popular hotel worker from Whitefield who died after he was struck by a tram in Manchester city centre.

Dave Ball, aged 48, was struck by the Metrolink tram in High Street outside Debenhams at about 6.15pm on Saturday.

Police are continuing their investigation into his death and the independent Rail Accident Investigation Branch has carried out a preliminary examination at the scene.

The sequence of events in the run-up to the crash is unclear, but police have ruled out an account that Mr Ball was trying to retrieve a bag from the tram tracks.

Mr Ball, who lived in Whitefield, worked as a porter at The Midland Hotel in the city centre.

Colleague Liam Breheny said: “It is a big shock and a massive loss.

“Dave was such an amazing character that the world is a worse place for not having him.

“The man was a legend. I have so many amazing memories of him, from him running round a pool in Cyprus to the 118 tune, to telling a hotel guest he had a metal plate in his head to explain his mood swings.

“I’m touched by the depth of feeling shown to such a lovely man.”

Mr Breheny also said there was already talk of organising a fundraising event for charity in Mr Ball’s honour.

Ian McCaffery, aged 52, who also used to work with Mr Ball, said: “I’m still in shock at the loss of David.

“His legs were badly damaged in an accident when he was 18. It was terrible for him.

“Dave enjoyed life, did no harm to anyone, worked hard and no son ever did more to care for a sick mother than him.

“We were quite close when I worked at the hotel, but still bumped into each other in town a lot.”

Another colleague, Robbie Bowers, said: “It brings a lump to my throat thinking how much we all will miss him.

“I know some days he was moody, but Dave always made you laugh with his one-liners.”

The fatal incident caused Metrolink lines to be closed and services suspended, affecting thousands of football fans who had been attending Manchester United’s home game against Swansea.

Peter Cushing, Transport for Greater Manchester Metrolink director, said: “On Saturday evening, a fatal collision unfortunately occurred on High Street involving a pedestrian and a tram.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends affected, and we will ensure the driver involved is offered counselling.

“The scene was closed off by the police and services were unable to run through the city centre for around three hours, inevitably causing disruption to all lines.

“We acted swiftly and did as much as we possibly could at short notice to both minimise the level of disruption and keep people informed subsequent to this tragic event.”